This blog was originally published on May 27th, 2016. It has been updated with new links and information.
Summer vacation is just around the corner and two months can be a long break from learning. On average, students lose the equivalent of two months of math and reading skills during the summer months. More than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. Furthermore, about a quarter of teachers spend at least 1.5 months simply re-teaching material from the previous year. When you factor in the disruption to traditional in-person schooling, the impact grows exponentially! This summer you can work to facilitate continued learning with our top seven suggestions for engaging students and families.
Ways to Keep Students Engaged Over the Summer
- Daily Journal – Have your students keep a daily journal recording their summer experiences. This will keep reading and writing skills sharp.
- Summer Reading – Put together a suggested summer reading list. Reading is one of the easiest ways to keep a student’s mind engaged during a break from structured educational activities. Looking for advice on what to read? Hit up your local library. Many libraries have reading competitions that kids can take part in and offer reading programs that can keep your students busy for the entire summer break. Don’t have a local library in your area? Participate in the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge online!
- Get Outside and Explore – A trip to the neighborhood park or a nearby nature preserve can be a terrific learning experience. Prepare students for a day of discovery with books and videos about flora and fauna. Check your local nature center for free programming.
- Take a Field Trip – Have your students visit a museum of art, history, or science. Go to a zoo or aquarium. Many museums have one day or evening per week offering free or reduced admission. Take advantage of museum education programs and classes like pottery, painting, bird watching, scientific experimentation, or photography. Some kitchen stores offer cooking classes for parents and kids- together or separately. Have your kids try a new class like gymnastics, karate, dance, or music. The first class is often free and summertime can bring low attendance so it’s a great time to try new activities in different venues they haven’t seen before.
- Get Crafty – Encourage your student’s parents to pick up a cookbook for kids from the library and have them follow an easy step-by-step recipe. Or, get them outside to construct a bird feeder. The sky is the limit, but the key is to have them doing something active rather than passively consuming media.
- Volunteer Opportunities – Encourage older students to stay active in the community during the summer by volunteering for a local organization. Volunteering provides valuable experience by helping students develop leadership and job skills, exposing them to potential career opportunities, and helping them make their own professional connections within their community.
- Stay Active & healthy – In addition to academic risks, children can also be at an increased risk of weight gain when they are out of school during the summer months. Take advantage of the warmer weather and keep active outdoors.
- Go Geocaching – Often referred to as “the world’s largest treasure hunt,” geocaching involves searching for hidden caches or treasures in a specific geographical area. All you need is a smartphone, a warm day, and a little bit of time.
- Play, "The Floor is Lava” – Scour the house for items that kids can crawl over, jump on, hop across or run to. Parents don’t need anything fancy, ordinary household items will do. Set up your backyard obstacle course and go!
Summer slide is a real problem, but by doing your part and encouraging your students and their families to stay active and engaged, you can help your students turn the summer months into a fun, innovative learning experience.
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